Psychiatrists and mental health professionals are being called upon to
volunteer their services to Give an Hour as part of a nationwide effort to
meet the mental health needs of U.S. military members returning from Iraq and
Afghanistan, veterans, and their families.
Leaders of Give an Hour, the American Psychiatric Foundation, and the Eli
Lilly and Company Foundation Inc. convened a press conference in Washington,
D.C., in May to announce a $1 million grant from the Lilly foundation to
expand the care provided by Give an Hour.
Barbara Romberg, Ph.D., the founder and president of Give an Hour, said at
the press conference, "We in the mental health community now have the
opportunity to do our part by giving our time and skills to the men and women
who defend and serve our nation."
Give an Hour is a nonprofit organization founded in 2005 by Romberg, a
psychologist practicing in the Washington, D.C., area. Its mission is to
develop a network of psychiatrists and mental health professionals who offer
pro-bono services to people with acute and chronic mental health problems
after they have served in either of the two war zones, veterans, and their
families (Psychiatric News, May 16).
So far, the organization has a network of more than 1,200 clinicians,
including psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and licensed
counselors, Romberg said. Their services are coordinated through a database
located on the Give an Hour Web site, where military members, veterans, and
their families can locate a mental health professional in their
Then-APA President Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., calls upon APA members to
volunteer their time and services to assist U.S. military members returning
from Iraq and Afghanistan. At left is Barbara Romberg, Ph.D., who started the
program Give an Hour in 2005 and received a $1 million grant from the Lilly
foundation for recruitment and education efforts.
Credit: David Hathcox
Volunteers must sign up for a minimum of a year to provide services.
Romberg emphasized that the program is not meant to be a substitute for
mental health services offered by the military or Department of Veterans
Affairs, but as a supplement to what is available for military personnel and
Carolyn Robinowitz, M.D., then-APA president and a Give an Hour volunteer,
noted that "we at APA are pleased to join Give an Hour and promote wider
access to mental health care. APA members now have the chance to make a real
difference and help veterans go on to lead full and productive
The $1 million grant from the Lilly foundation, administered through the
American Psychiatric Foundation, will go to recruit volunteers to the Give an
Hour network and educate them about mental health issues related to
Funds also will be used to educate the public about the mental health needs
of military members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Robinowitz cited
findings from APA's survey on military members and their families showing that
61 percent of military members surveyed believed that seeking treatment for a
mental health problem would have at least some negative impact on their
careers (Psychiatric News, May 2).
"These findings documented a greater need for discussion and
education about mental health problems affecting deployed military personnel
and their families," Robinowitz said.
Steven Paul, M.D., executive vice president of science and technology and
president of Lilly Research Laboratories, said at the press conference that"
a successful medical intervention often requires much more than just
medication—patients need access to mental health professionals who can
adequately diagnose and comprehensively treat them."
"In this case, it's about [the Lilly foundation] supporting a network
of partners across the country who will share their compassion and expertise
to help those who have served this country," Paul said.
Romberg noted that to accomplish its mission, Give an Hour has partnered
with a number of military and mental health organizations, which include the
Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Armed Forces
Foundation, and National Military Family Association.
"We have a duty to take care of one another," observed Richard
Harding, M.D., president of the American Psychiatric Foundation and a past APA
president. Harding is a former Navy officer with a son who has served in the
military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Harding described his experiences as a child
and adolescent psychiatrist at Camp Pendleton Marine Base in California
working with more than 150 refugee children who had been smuggled out of
Vietnam to the United States at the end of the war.
"It became clear to me then that one does not escape war simply by
leaving the war zone," he said.
Information about Give an Hour and how to join the network of
providers is posted at<www.giveanhour.org>.▪